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IP/05/1341

Brussels, 24 October 2005

Commission welcomes agreement on measures to fight illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber

The European Commission today welcomed agreement by Member States on measures to fight illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber, a growing problem that robs governments in affected developing countries of an estimated €10-15bn every year in lost revenue and damages environment. The measures adopted consist of (i) voluntary partnerships to support and promote governance reform in countries badly affected by illegal logging; and (ii) a regulation that sets up a legally-binding licensing scheme with partner countries to ensure that only legal timber from these countries is imported into the EU. The measures are based on an innovative approach linking efforts to strengthen governance in developing countries with the incentives for good practice offered by the EU market.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: “All major timber importing countries have to recognise the vital role they must play in closing down the international trade in illegal timber. Today we are showing the way. I strongly encourage others to join our ranks”.

Commenting on the voluntary agreements that are at the core of the measures agreed, Commissioner Michel said: “Only by working in close partnership with timber-producing countries can we hope to have a real impact. The partnership agreements provide producing countries with the incentives and support required for them to fight illegal logging.”

The Commission proposed measures to combat illegal logging and the associated trade in July 2004. Later that year the Commission committed €20m to fund a series of pilot programmes to promote greater transparency through independent monitoring of timber harvesting operations; help civil society in developing countries to advocate for better forest governance; and support an innovative public-private partnership with European timber importers.

The Commission is also supporting international dialogue on improving forest governance and combating illegal logging; and a €15m programme of technical assistance will begin later this year in Indonesia.

Illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber are prominent among factors contributing to the rapid loss of global forests. This rapid destruction adversely affects many of the world's poorest people, who depend on forest resources for a living. Illegal logging fuels corruption and undermines the rule of law in many wood-producing countries. It also deprives governments of vital revenues to spend on poverty reduction programmes. The World Bank estimates that developing country governments are currently losing some US$10-15 billion annually due to illegal logging.

For further information see:

MEMO/04/194 of 20 July 2004

Background

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the EU pledged to work in partnership with wood-producing countries to eradicate illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber.

Measures to combat illegal logging follow the European Commission’s long standing commitment to the sustainable management and conservation of the world’s remaining forests. Over the past decade the EC has provided more than €700m to support forest conservation and sustainable management in Asia, Central Africa and South America.


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